Amateur Radio Licenses in the UK are controlled by OFCOM and are obtained by passing the relevant RSGB (Radio Society of Great Britain) tests and examinations.
At this time there are three levels of radio licence: the FOUNDATION, the INTERMEDIATE, and the FULL. The tests for each level must be completed before the next level can be attempted. As the Foundation and the Intermediate levels both include some practical assessments, they must be undertaken with some form of training or supervision, the Full licence requires only completion of the written examination and can be self-taught.
There are generally no limitations on the Modes available to Amateur Radio operators at any level, and Foundation, Intermediate and Full Licence holders can use AM, FM, SSB, CW or Digital Modes such as PSK31 or SSTV. Foundation licenses are limited to HF, plus 2m and 70cm and may not use FSTV, but Intermediate and Full licenses have access to the full amateur radio spectrum.
Each of the three RSGB written examinations comprise multiple choice questions. They must take place in a Registered Location under the Supervision of RSGB Registered Examiners. There is a fee payable for each examination (and again payable if failed and reattempted) and for the use of the hall.
Contrary to popular belief, there is NO requirement for a CW / Morse Test in the UK licenses any more and previous “Class A” and “Class B” licence holders now enjoy exactly the same privileges.
All of the three exams can be arranged through the club and sat at Westleigh Village Hall in Westleigh near Bideford. We can arrange some instruction for the Foundation Course.
Contact the exam secretary John Lovell G3JKL 01237 478410
The entry Level is the Foundation licence. This is a new licence that was introduced in January 2002. The Foundation licence is designed to get you involved in amateur radio as quickly as possible. But before you are allowed to transmit ‘live’ it is important that you know a little bit about how your radio works, the dangers of interfering with other radio users, how not to upset your neighbours or your parents (if you are a young person) and the rules and regulations of holding a radio transmitting licence.
How do you learn these new skills, by taking the Foundation licence training course, which is an integral part of of obtaining a Foundation licence. Most of the training is practical. There is a small amount of radio and electronics theory but only enough for you to appreciate things like using the correct fuses in your equipment and how to build an antenna to get the most out of your radio station.
Don’t be afraid of the thought of having to undertake a training course. The courses are run in a friendly informal atmosphere by experienced radio amateurs. The course will take about 10-12 hours to complete at the end of which you will sit an examination comprising of twenty five multiple choice questions. Your exam paper will be marked on the spot. Once you have passed the exam you get your ‘Pass’ certificate and you are on your way! When you have been issued with your own individual M6 series callsign you will be able to operate on all bands without supervision but with a power restriction of 10 Watts. This is a fairly low level of power but with the experience you will quickly gain this will enable you to communicate around the world.
The Intermediate syllabus covers much the same topics as the Foundation syllabus, a pass at Foundation level being a prerequisite to taking the Intermediate exam. At this level you will expand your knowledge of radio theory, operating techniques and learn about a few concepts covering components and construction. Also the basic laws of electricity are dealt with and calculations relating to these and wavelength and frequency. Unlike the Foundation Licence, the Intermediate Licence allows you to build your own transmitters from scratch. Consequently you need to be able to demonstrate some basic construction skills. For this reason the course includes a number of practical tasks.
1. Construct a simple DC circuit.
2. Measure potential difference and current in a simple DC circuit.
3. Demonstrate that a diode will only conduct in one direction.
4. Demonstrate that a transistor can be used as a switch.
5. Fit an RF connector to a length of coax.
6. Fit a 3 pin mains plug to a length of 3 core mains cable.
7. Measure the resistance of a number of resistors and check using the colour code.
8. Calibrate a variable frequency oscillator.
9. Construct a radio related project.
10. Demonstrate the ability to make good soldered joints.
This assessment of skills must be completed before applying to sit the exam. The written exam itself consists of 45 questions as follows:-
9 questions on the nature of Amateur Radio and Licensing conditions.
8 questions on Technical Basics.
7 questions on Transmitters and Receivers.
3 questions on Feeders and Antennas.
3 questions on Propagation.
5 questions on E M C.
4 questions on Operating Practices and Procedures.
4 questions on Safety.
2 questions on Construction.
The exam lasts for 1hr 15mins. A successful candidate can then apply for a license that will permit operation on all bands with a power of 50 watts max plus the freedom to design, build and experiment.
This is the highest level of licence that you can obtain. The Advanced (Full) Licence enables you to operate on all the amateur radio bands using the full 400 Watts power allowed.
To gain an Advanced (Full) Licence you must have passed either the Radio Amateurs Examination (RAE) or the Advanced (Full) Licence component of the new licence structure. The Advanced (Full) Radio Communication Examination is more advanced than the Intermediate one and has replaced the old City & Guilds RAE. Again, it covers radio theory and licence conditions but because holding a full licence enables you to use 400 Watts power output to your transmitter, subjects such as Electro Magnetic Compatibility (EMC), antenna design and safety issues are covered in greater depth.
The licence allows access to all the amateur allocations with full power.
When studying for the Advanced (Full) Licence, there is no requirement to take a formal training course. It is possible to study at home on your own, if you so wish. However, many local amateur radio clubs and societies and technical colleges run courses for the Advanced Licence.